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We want to earn our money

Lethloo, a 38-year-old father of two young boys, who attended the International Day of People with Disabilities event in Bloemfontein at the end of 2011, said he wanted nothing more than a job.

He uses a wheelchair to get around but said given a chance, he can do anything with his hands.

Do things for ourselves

Lethloo is also the chairperson of the Disabled People of South Africa in Masilo. He said his in organisation, they encouraged one another to do things for themselves, including starting their own businesses.

“I do not like it when people feel pity for me, giving me hand-outs as if I cannot work. Being disabled does not mean that one cannot work or do things for himself. We want to be recognised and be offered jobs – that’s what we want,” he said spiritedly.

Asked what he would like to see government doing for people with disabilities, he said funds must be set aside for job creation for people with disabilities.

“We want jobs, we want to earn our money.”

Part of society

Chairperson of the South African Disability Alliance, Muzi Nkosi, said most people with disabilities were poor because they were unemployed.

He called on government and the private sector to employ people with disabilities so they could lead a normal life without burdening other people.

Echoing Nkosi’s sentiments was Dikeledi Shupinyaneng from Thaba Nchu, a member of the Association of People with Disability. She emphasised that government and the private sector should provide jobs for people with disabilities.

Shupinyaneng also expressed concern about being unable to access some government and municipal buildings, saying this made them feel they were outcasts.

“We just want government to recognise and listen to us. This will make us feel we are part of society.” 

Employment target

Failure to achieve the 2 per cent target set for the employment of people with disabilities goes against the Constitution, says Women, Children and People with Disabilities Minister Lulu Xingwana.

Speaking in Bloemfontein to commemorate International Day of People with Disabilities, the Minister urged employers to work vigorously to achieve the target. She said South Africa had only achieved a 1 per cent employment rate for people with disabilities, but was hopeful the target would be reached this year. 

The minister encouraged all disabled job-seekers to register with the Department of Labour and with employment agencies. She called on the private sector to actively get involved in employing people with disabilities.

-Edwin Tshivhidzo